Moral Zero extract #2

Moral Zero is a dystopian thriller with post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, existential and horror themes. Contains visceral and potentially disturbing sexuality and violence and is not for everyone, certainly not the faint of heart and stomach.

It is currently self-published as an ebook and can be found on Amazon for Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Zero-Set-Sytes-ebook/dp/B00LDWTQC2/ 

Disclaimer: The lack of speech marks and other idiosyncrasies are deliberate.

Here is another extract from it.

 

The streets slid on all sides as if they were on rails. Theatre backdrops turned on some hidden winch, a scenery on repeat, re-using buildings, trash, people.

They passed little cracked bulbs nestled in grating coming out brick walls with the bricks crumbling and broken. Some buildings looked as if they had suffered some air raid or street bombing and if anything they passed looked repaired it was work without effort or hope, as if the builders could not summon any care for anything in these streets. Everything was covered in graffiti. Most of it was people just making their mark, leaving a name and a guess at a date for who knew what day was what in Rule. Much of the graffiti was obscene and sordid and some of it was anti-authority and some of it was dark and cruel.

They passed steel bins left empty while rubbish and refuse of every kind was scattered everywhere, as if the bins themselves signalled some command to order that the people shunned. They passed the homeless or what seemed to be the homeless, though in this city they could be anybody. They sat or lay forlorn in clothes or bundled rags or naked and grimy. Some shivered and some sweated and many writhed on drugs or swayed on drink as if conducting some voodoo incantation to rid the street of its evils. Some of those sat were junkies and one or two were well-clothed and clean-shaven and this did not seem to matter. Some begged and were ignored, some didn’t beg and were ignored. By all except pushers and pimps, thieves and worse. Mr White saw them sidle up and sit down as if friends, to young women and men, to kids, to those well-dressed and those naked, to any and all, for even the ugly and old could be exploited, and perhaps in their desperation they were perfect for it. Mr White awkwardly gave a man with his hands out a few coins, and received a strange look from Red. The man looked at the coins in his hand as if they were foreign to him. He bit into one with what was left of his teeth and a tooth broke and his mouth bled over the coins. Another man came out of the shadows and they saw the glint of a blade and they left quickly while he kneeled down and close to the broke-tooth man.

Mr White followed Red close as he half-strut his stride and both their faces glowed in the light of the neon signs that hung crackling from anywhere they could be seen. Their faces were ultramarine in the hazy light of a peepshow theatre, and scarlet and bloody in the outside embrace of a porn shop. Their features flicked green with envy and yellow with sickness and every colour of the rainbow in a dozen different tints and bleeds. They passed drug dens and brothels and gun-shops and run-down emporiums selling things behind fortified counters to any customer with the money and neither would ask questions nor demand answers. They passed a bright pink lit window and above it was a pink sign of a pizza with red neon meatballs. They entered and bought pizza for that was all the food there was and it came cold and crusty and the meat on it was nothing they could recognise. Red bought them both some kind of liqueur which he glugged and Mr White sipped slowly. Red told Mr White not to make any eye contact with any of the other patrons of the takeaway, to not even look at them, and Mr White replied that he would not even consider it.

They left and continued on to the border between District Seven and Ten. Only once did they pass a cop and it did not harass them nor harass anybody else. They could not see its face hidden as it was behind its helmet but its manner of walking and how it stayed in the light and how its head moved from side to side but too quick to examine anything gave the impression of nervousness, as if it knew its continued solitary existence in these streets had even more tentative a future than those prostitutes and homeless addicts. They did see a number of drones, and heard even more, to the point that the buzzing cat-purrs that crept up on them and then past or were hidden behind walls or flying above them along rooftops or down in the sewers beneath their feet became no more an event than their own breathing.

Nearly there hombre, said Red, as they passed though the darkness under a small dilapidated bridge that leaked some dark fluid from its bones. Mr White thought a few drops hit his shoes but he did not stop to check. The lights were less now and as he flicked his eyes quickly at the people in the street they seemed full of cruelty. He did not dare look at their faces and this gave them an absence of humanity, if there was even any there. He saw Red look at some of the bodies of the girls but he was looking less and less and whether this was due to a dropping quality or apprehension or weariness on Red’s part was unknown. Mr White saw a woman in leather straps and netting and something that looked like barbed wire around her crotch lean out of a doorway at their approach. She had a huge exposed cleavage and her lips were bulbous and sticky red, pumped so fat that they seemed to command her whole face. He looked at Red and Red must have seen her first because without turning his head he shook his head emphatically and they walked on.

Mr White shivered and he finished the last of his liqueur which tasted of rotten fruit but all synthetic and shook full of sugar. He wondered aloud where the next bin was for he had not seen one in some time. Red told him to drop it on the street and after a hesitation Mr White placed it down as near the side of the street as he dared go and then hurried back. They passed a middle-aged woman in furs being sick onto the side of a grey-brick building without windows or doors. Her face was pale and blue and Mr White looked for the light but it was not blue but white.

Should we help her? Mr White whispered as they drew level.

I think you know the answer to that one man, said Red, and Mr White already did.

On both sides of his vision were alleyways and small side streets shrouded in the thickest blackness, both full and empty, like beckoning voids, each one seeming a shortcut to oblivion. As though if he ventured down any he would never be seen again. He heard a gunshot from one and then silence and from another a scream and then silence. Both seemed to come from some other world hidden from his eyes, as though the blackness did not contain such dangers but was merely the gateway, and once you passed through you ceased to be part of this world and would be forever lost. His mind seemed to draw him closer to these shadows, shifting his perspective from side to side, but his body stayed on track out of fear and automation and so it seemed like his mind was struggling to escape its bonds while the body stayed firm and the mind lurched out on its own like some drunken phantasm of the night. It splayed out left and right and tried to fly to the voids and the tether caught and it was pulled back, secretly glad, springing back to safety and full of the rush of terror avoided.

We’re here, announced Red abruptly.

 

Moral Zero cover

Favourite quotations #2

“Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.” – Hunter S. Thompson

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus

“Go through the moral demands…one by one and you will find that man could not live up to them; the intention is not that he should become more moral, but that he should feel as sinful as possible. If man had failed to find this feeling pleasant – why should he have engendered such an idea and adhered to it for so long?… Man was by every means to be made sinful and thereby become excited, animated, enlivened in general. To excite, animate, enliven at any price…” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun” – Katharine Hepburn

“Reality is an illusion created by lack of alcohol” – N.F. Simpson

“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof.” – V for Vendetta

“I learned that the richness of life is found in adventure. . . . It develops self-reliance and independence. Life then teems with excitement. There is stagnation only in security” – William Orville Douglas

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

“The dog that trots about finds a bone.” – Proverb

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” – Katherine Mansfield

“All universal moral principles are idle fancies.” – Marquis de Sade

“Those are my principles, if you don’t like them… I have others.” – Groucho Marx

“Here is my final point. About drugs, about alcohol, about pornography and smoking and everything else. What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body – as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?” – Bill Hicks

“We wanted to blast the world free of history…. picture yourself planting radishes and seed potatoes on the fifteenth green of a forgotten golf course. You’ll hunt elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center, and dig clams next to the skeleton of the Space Needle leaning at a forty-five degree angle. We’ll paint the skyscrapers with huge totem faces and goblin tikis, and every evening what’s left of mankind will retreat to empty zoos and lock itself in cages as protection against the bears and big cats and wolves that pace and watch us from outside the cage bars at night” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

“We are creatures of the underworld. We can’t afford to love.” – Moulin Rouge

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” – William Feather

“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be soon,” but you know you won’t.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

“That’s because we’re uncool. And while women will always be a problem for us, most of the great art in the world is about that very same problem. Good-looking people don’t have any spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we’re smarter… Yeah, great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love… and let’s face it, you got a big head start.” – Almost Famous

“I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.” – Cormac McCarthy

 

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The Violet Dark #3

Firstly, apologies for the website being down for so long. Blame my behind the scenes fiddling.

Anyhow, here is the third part to the hallucinogenic road thriller/horror The Violet Dark. Again, first draft, work in progress! The second part has also been updated. My aim is for you to follow me along my own road; that of crafting a new novel from scratch. If you find any mistakes I have missed please don’t hesitate to point them out.

 

The rain stopped first. The clouds hung around, waiting for something that didn’t come. One by one they slunk off, freeing the sky, the lightning and thunder gone to their beds in other lands. The orchestra over. Time, gentlemen.

She got up, so sodden and heavy and filthy with the mud that the rain had not washed away. Not a mermaid or a fish, just a fat, slow woman, creaking the ground with her ponderous weight.

She followed him back to the bikes. She didn’t know how he remembered their location so well, but then again every tree was different, as was every bush and every blade of grass. After a time she noticed that the trees were pointing the way, and ushering them along. Their impatience was evident when a branch whipped her backside, and they hurried their pace, leaving a leaking trail as they went.

Perhaps it was the time dilation, but it seemed to take a lot longer to find the bikes than she’d have thought. How far had I run? The walk got easier as it went on, as the water fell from their clothes and hair, and after another sip of violet her body lightened even more. The air blew fresh and clear around the amaranthine trees, curling and singing sweetly as it sought them out and kissed them dry.

They sensed the silence of the road before they came upon it, and their bikes lay there like sleeping metal tyrants.

He walked past them to the road, and laid himself down.

‘Are we not riding?’

‘Not yet,’ he said.

She lay next to him and blew invisible smoke rings into the firmament.

 

The Moon

 

Watching as you sleep

 

She looked up into the sky, that lonely chasm. Each star a little slice of heaven, some sharp, needle holes poking through the blanket to something better, to the paradise of whiteness beyond.

And the moon. Fat and bulging, it dominated the sky, a bulbous eye watching, ever watching. It grew whenever she looked away, whenever she blinked, whenever her gaze unfocused.

Not grew – came closer. Everything did it – the trees, the rocks – creeping closer behind your vision.

It reminded her of a TV programme she had seen as a child. There was a bunch of standing stones near a house, and they kept coming closer, and closer, but you never saw them move, not an inch. Eventually they were right outside the windows, right outside the front door. You turned your back and they were right there.

The show had terrified her. The terror of the inanimate, the unknown mysteries – worse than undead, never meant to be alive, never seen to be alive, and yet –

It was like spiders, one of her fears. The horror, the real horror wasn’t in the movement, but in the non-movement, the waiting for movement, the dreadful anticipation, wound up like high tensile wire. The lock of the legs. They crouched, and did nothing. When they moved, as quick and horrible as it was, it was never as bad as how it had been in your mind. Horror always truly lay with what you didn’t see, with what you made up, with the imagination giving graveyard life to the shadowed objects around you.

The moon seemed to fill the sky now. It was no mere eye of the night but a pale Sauron, a single staring eye for the cyclopean Anti-God. The eye of Death’s negative.

The black pits on its face seemed to wink at her, and it grinned.

‘The moon scares me,’ she said, and it did not sound ridiculous at that moment but rather the words consolidated her fear.

‘I know,’ he replied. ‘It’s always watching. It watches everything. It wants you to be scared of it.’

 

He gave her his blanket and she wrapped herself in it, while he lay out on the grass in nothing. Sleep came on her like a coma. She moved through the bellies of demons and angels with diamond eyes fucked her softly.

 

He watched her for a long time before closing his eyes.

 

The Wayside

 

Stepping through mouldy sunshine

 

She tried to blink away the sun, but it would not go. Her head swam and when she tried to sit up everything was too sharp, too bright and painful. Everything newly angled, even the grass was carved with a knife.

He was at her side stroking her hair and she wondered how long he had been there.

‘I’m thirsty,’ she said.

He had the flask already in his hand, ready to touch her lips.

‘Do you have water?’

‘This will keep you hydrated.’

‘Hair of the dog, huh.’ She took a tiny sip of the drink. Anything to make the land soften.

‘You’ll need a bit more than that.’

She rolled her eyes, but that made her skull ache. ‘Get me a proper drink first.’

‘This is a proper drink.’

‘I want a fucking coke.’

He stood up and looked down at her, then walked off to find their bikes. A few minutes later they had steered them back onto the road and were on their way.

She’s forgotten what the day had looked like. There was something pale and harsh and sad about it. She kept her eyes half-closed. The violet had taken a small effect, had taken the edges out of the world. She could feel them pushing to come back though. An artist’s hand waiting to re-sketch, to draw every line harder with thicker, meaner pencils.

She watched him from behind, watched his hair run with the wind. When she drew up closer she sometimes saw his eyes closed as he drove, and then as if he could feel her eyes he opened them slowly and smiled at her.

Who was this man? Why had she shacked up with him? Was he dangerous?

She thought of the farm and the big house, now empty and loveless. She thought of the thing in the mirror and she suddenly realised she had not taken her father’s body out of the road.

The thought was so awful that she drew a sword against it and cut it out of her mind.

Some tombs are best left undisturbed. Sometimes suns die and yet they never leave the sky. Just don’t look at it. Don’t let it hurt you.

 

They stopped off at a big store by the wayside. Both somewhat sobered; he was taking another as she pushed open the screen door.

‘It doesn’t belong here,’ he was saying. ‘It doesn’t fit. Where’s it gonna go? No place at all.’

There was only a couple of people in the store but they peered at her strangely and she felt uncomfortable. Well fuck you too. She wandered the aisles, feeling as out of place in this man-made artifice as the store itself was in the country around it. The man at the till coughed loudly and it echoed down the aisles. She concentrated on what she needed. All these names, brands, bullshit. She remembered when she would come to a place like this and how she had always wanted more than she could afford. Now little took her interest.

She bought a sleeping bag. She bought biscuits and bread. She bought vodka and coke.

They drank the coke, squinting in the muddy glaze of sunshine. They crouched under the jutting roof of the store. Less aggressive. A cool hand in service of the night. Helping the strangers who go all hours by the wayside.

‘I feel like I’m growing horns,’ he said.

‘What?’

He laughed at her with hard eyes. ‘We need to move on.’

            Leave life behind and follow him, came the unshakeable thought. It’s easy. Just follow. Follow until you are ready to lead.

‘Where are we going?’

‘There is no where. There is nowhere to go. We just go.’

‘Until?’

‘The dark will come soon. Then we go again.’

‘Forever?’

‘For as long as time takes us.’

 

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Moral Zero extract #1

Moral Zero is a dystopian thriller with post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, existential and horror themes. Contains visceral and potentially disturbing sexuality and violence and is not for everyone, certainly not the faint of heart and stomach.

It is currently self-published as an ebook and can be found on Amazon for Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Zero-Set-Sytes-ebook/dp/B00LDWTQC2/ 

Disclaimer: The lack of speech marks and other idiosyncrasies are deliberate.

Here is an extract from it.

 

On the lowest flight was a grand artistic rendition of some seemingly apocalyptic scene, but it was smeared and sooted from some past fire, and whether the work was of a great battle, a religious revival or a ferocious orgy was unknown. Mr White peered at it as he dropped step to step, and he could just make out in the very centre of the piece some black shape, a human figure perhaps, but it could as well be a curious blot, a burned scar forming nothing but the centre of everything.

Mr White came out of the fire escape into the sun and met Red with his back to the wall, one foot up. Red was wearing shades and pendants on chains and was staring down the sun.

Hola.

How long have you been out here?

Red shrugged. He had a cigarette in his fingers dropping ash and his other hand thumbed his belt. You ready.

Mr White looked up at the sun, still blinking as his eyes adjusted to the light. It wasn’t joyous and rich, it was thin, artificial, as though the sun was an imposter. Perhaps nought but a bright moon shone on them that day, as every day. Cutting through the skim of the city’s milk. As though it were a bubble, and nothing could pass through and keep its lustre, its original power and integrity. Mr White waved a hand through the air and he could feel it. The cloy of the city, the milk, the soul. Sour and pungent.

You ready?

I’m ready. Mr White took a deep breath and the air was neither fresh nor clean.

Red looked at Mr White and grinned. Old habits die hard, don’t they.

Mr White smiled and stretched a little. Yeah.

They moved off, Red leading, Mr White just a step behind. Red walked with his customary jaunt as if he thought he was a rockstar or a drug dealer or a pirate. He could have been all three and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Mr White felt a dull, snapping breeze on his neck as though someone was clicking fingers on his skin. He reached up and found a button undone on his shirt, and he hastily rebuttoned and held his coat tighter to him.

Red glanced at him. It ain’t cold.

I don’t like it.

Red chuckled and kept on.

They walked through trash and bottles span and splintered as Red’s boots kicked them away.  Beside them cruel looking taxis vibrated back and forth along the road. They looked like they were battered out from sheet iron. The windows were frosted to obscure both driver and passengers, but the appearance was more of glass punched and cracked over and over, utterly smashed and held together with invisible tape. Like some crude icing rink after years of use without repair. The wheels were crags that crunched refuse and dead things under their merciless tread.

On their left buildings and shop windows were passed without comment or notice, all the same, all hopeless and blank. White lights shone into the day, advertising, always advertising, but without vigour, as if even the perpetrators of such had fallen to resignation, a disbelief in their products. Once in a while a tree was passed, but they looked plastic and they stood like statues, the leaves as still as iron claws. Beside every one were two benches, one on either side, blue paintwork scabbing away to show a brown leprous heart. On some sat people, and they all stared forward, even those in halting conversation. Talking as if ghosts in a foreign land.

You oughtn’t have done that. An old man stared ahead and he blinked so slow and heavy that it was a wonder if he knew whether he was awake or asleep, or alive or dead.

I know it. His companion was emaciated, looking like something just dug up. You know how it is.

No I don’t.

The man from the grave sighed, and the world seemed to fall off his bones. Every man wants to be seen as dangerous some point or another. Capable of such things. No man can go a whole life otherwise. Every man wants to know he’s a danger. To be thought of such a way. For one moment or two.

You oughtn’t have done it.

I know it. It is how it is.

Red and White walked on out of earshot and at length they came to a checkpoint cutting off the street. It clustered with police, in their black uniforms and black mirrored helmets.

You done this before?

Mr White shook his head.

It’s easy. They got nothin.

They were looked at like robots handling objects but they gave their names in the booth and they were let through without further consideration. There were no niceties. They were ushered in and out and they walked away from the faceless stares, those expressionless things that seemed so alien and hostile, void of feeling. They walked away with their necks prickling into District Seven.

Moral Zero cover

Favourite Quotations #1

“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”  – Hunter S. Thompson

“To know oneself, one should assert oneself.” – Albert Camus

“…lust is only a sweet poison for the weakling, but for those who will with a lion’s heart it is the reverently reserved wine of wines.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Lead me not into temptation. I can find the way there myself” – Rita Mae Brown

“I would call you a man who pretends to like life more than he does.” The Libertine

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelius

“The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.” – Japanese Proverb

“Someday I want to be rich. Some people get so rich they lose all respect for humanity. That’s how rich I want to be.” – Rita Rudner

“The hippies wanted peace and love. We wanted Ferraris, blondes and switchblades.” -Alice Cooper

“If you don’t know what you want… you end up with a lot you don’t.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

“A large amount of alcohol appears to have been consumed, but that neither excuses nor fully explains your behaviour” – Sheriff Kathrine Mackie to Lord Watson of Invergowrie

“Too many people grow up. That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well I won’t do that.” – Walt Disney

“Only you have ever understood me … and you got it wrong.” – Hegel (dying words)

“You fail only if you stop writing.” – Ray Bradbury

“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“This was the truth at the core of my existence: this yawning emptiness, scantily clad in rage. It had been there all along.” – Hillary Jordan, Mudbound

“A writer lives the sad truth like anyone else. The only difference is, he files a report on it.” – Naked Lunch (the film)

“Because that’s the thing about depression. When I feel it deeply, I don’t want to let it go. It becomes a comfort. I want to cloak myself under its heavy weight and breathe it into my lungs. I want to nurture it, grow it, cultivate it. It’s mine. I want to check out with it, drift asleep wrapped in its arms and not wake up for a long, long time.”
― Stephanie Perkins

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.” – Almost Famous

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemmingway

“This too shall pass.” – Proverb

 

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The Violet Dark opening extract #2

Here for your enjoyment is the second part of the opening to the hallucinogenic road thriller/horror The Violet Dark. The previous part is in the previous post. Again, first draft, work in progress! My aim is for you to follow me along my own road; that of crafting a new novel from scratch.

 

Bigger than us

 

She didn’t know how long the night span on but on it did. The world wheeled past. The bikes crunched through on the infinite scrawl of the road. The whites, the blacks. The thin grey desert carved through the hollow thickets of the land.

See the brambles and thorns as scissors with the sky. See the howl and thump of the air. Feel it, feel it pour through you. Her hair swung out behind her, each strand a pagan goddess, swaying seductively, amorally. The motes in the air the audience, rapturous, hushed. Waterfalls in the night when the lights go low.

The bikes seemed to run slow, but who really knew. Time couldn’t keep up with the moving world. The bushes and dark ones did not whip along, but watched in a gradual impermanence. Each skull grin, each wide eye, caught in the crazed obsession of the blackness, all caught and replayed. Things took their time here, the route the orbit of the spirit. She remembered each beautiful nightmare. Each slide in the film. The projectionist looking down on her. Turn it down, dad. Wind it on, turn it down.

Ahead of her he came closer and closer, and she realised he was slowing, or she was still and he was riding backwards. He turned into the side and came off the motorbike like a falling tree.

‘What?’ she said, the word moving through her like the ocean’s sigh.

‘I thought it might be getting tough to ride for you now. The road wants us to take care of ourselves. Come in. Brake, brake, come in.’

She took the hand of the great pardoner and stepped off into his kingdom. Her princess dress nothing but the cobwebs blown through the early hours.

‘Lie down,’ he commanded. She followed after he did.

‘Enjoy,’ he commanded. She came first.

At first the grass tickled her, a thousand hands invading her, laying siege to the wall of her back. And then she closed her eyes, and the hands pulled back in deeply held respect.

She breathed in waves, feeling the rise, the crest – then exhaling the spume off the bare shore. Blowing the rolling hills back to the blue depths.

She felt the motions of the world, felt its pulse. As she breathed the ground beneath her feet breathed. A thousand giants below the surface, pounding anvils and raising steam, jumping, stretching, fighting and fucking. Each cough a storm, each sneeze volcanic.

No, just one, one behemoth, bearded and brawny, his hair the grass and trees, his beating heart the Earth’s core.

She saw through the soil, saw his rolling mad eyes, his tectonic fingers prying, probing, turning valleys to mountains. Then his eyes were the moon, two moons, except cast below deck by an intemperate God. Then whites go red, and the eyes were the twin cores of the Earth, still watching, still pulsating, melted blind and pupilless.

If only others knew the truth: that the rhythm of the world was the monster Gaia, the great, terrible wild man of all impossibilities. Wild man of the woods, the rocks, the deserts, the oceans; the mists in the sky his fogging breath.

 

All the time or none of the time. That’s how you live, that’s how you love. They lay side by side in the motherly guardianship of the stalking trees. Fingers so close. They could feel its each other’s existence, more aware than any two beings ever had been before. A devil’s angel and an angel’s devil.

 

She opened her eyes when the trees moved. She saw the eyes in the trunks, saw the nests of the damned, saw everything watching. A silent crowd watching, moving slowly in gnarled twitches.

She made a noise and her body sat her up. Somebody was still running the thing, while all those upstairs either lay in a stupor or were petrified like stone.

He sat up next to her, and she cried out again at this sudden zombie. She thought she was trembling all over, but when she looked at herself she was still. Her body looked alien to her. She swore there were eyes on her skin, looking at her through wrinkles, just out of sight. Mouths in the crooks of her arms laughing. And the corpse of him.

‘It’s okay,’ he said.

‘No it isn’t.’

‘You’re right, it isn’t. But it will be. You need to brave it out.’

‘Brave . . . what . . . out.’

‘The violet dark.’

 

She’d been running. She knew that from the sweat, from the punch of her heart, from the army drawing its breath inside her. But she couldn’t remember, not really; just a rush of shapes, crawling patches of darkness, bogs of the pitch-dark sky sucking at her feet.

Why had she ran? The eyes… the laughter, the chorus of the owls perched all around like the bloodhungry at the Coliseum. The birds on the branches examining her with surgical eyes, just rotten old plague doctors; they’d not seen any in some time. Watched by all parties as she made her way through this house of trees with stoned terror.

Now she was in a drunken, wheeling panic. She felt like a girl who had woken up in a room alone at a strange house, drugged and ripped, a foreign chatter above past sprawled corridors that never ended. A date gone foul.

She struggled to make sense of the panic, to take action on it, to exchange information body to brain and back. He was not there.

The first drops of the storm landed on her fingers, then her nose.

 

She slipped through the trees as the rain ate at their leaves. It was a chatter that continued to increase in volume, a party of souls with as much wine as they could drink.

She imagined she was on a ship, an old galleon with high masts. Reading the stars by the lamps of the owls. Guiding the vessel through a maze of rocks, hands dancing at the helm – the trees crowding in, coming at her left and right.

When she bumped into him and he put his hands on her she thought that maybe life had ended. Everything stopped for a heartbeat, a freeze frame. She thought of it as a photograph in a book of her life. A baby in her father’s arms. A child playing on the farm. A woman in the arms of the dead.

Her fist clawed at his head, and he tripped her up, sending her flat to the ground. Surely this was dying, she thought, but then he was there, his breath against hers, urging her that it was okay and stroking her hair as the rain came on.

 

The sky rent and gnashed, great holes appearing and reeling drunk like gaping portals to the black clutches of alien space. The air bellowed and screamed, swooping banshees in their ears and the ears of all creatures big and small.

I am drowning, she thought, and yet she breathed through the water, writhing in transformation to mermaid. The world was a waterfall, and it all came down.

They were offering themselves as a sacrifice to the storm, laid in a small clearing as trees melted around them and sank into the earth. She swallowed the rain and it filled her belly, and she wriggled in the mud like a fish.

Watch the world drip away

Drip drip drip

It all falls down

Every last bit

The heavens ripped open with atavistic savagery, some calling of primeval gods ending in their destruction and the birthing of their blood fouled sons and daughters.

A homicidal night, and watch as the spindral hands of God come down from on high, from the tears in the cloud – or the hands of that Gnostic demonking, spectral and skeletal, crooked and shining in the blue white of the newly dead. It reached out, darting and jagged, and fingered the holes in the earth.

She rolled on the ground, hands clutched over her head, and he lay prone yet soaked and trembling, half concussed and with asylum eyes. Mouths were opened and mouths were shut and –

All words were lost in the screech and holler.

 

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The Violet Dark opening extract #1

Greetings. For my first proper post… here is the first draft of the opening to my work-in-progress novel, The Violet Dark. The Violet Dark is  a ‘beautiful nightmare’, a hallucinogenic road thriller/horror. I hope you enjoy.

 

The violet dark

The horror’s heart

 

He found her crouched like a dog over the corpse of her father. He was cruising on violet and she appeared to him then an angel, hair so white it hurt his eyes and her own eyes bursting with life.

He knelt down beside her as she quivered. ‘What happened?’ he said, raising a hand to put on her shoulder and then thinking better of it, hovering it in the air.

She told him between coughs and cries that he had been murdered. He looked and saw the hole through the chest, the drying blood sticking to the tarmac.

‘Let’s get you off the road,’ he said, and she stiffened as his hand fell on her, but she allowed herself to be moved to the verge. She didn’t ask who he was.

He looked up and saw the moon blinking cold and yellow; greasy and indolent and huge. It seemed to dwarf the land, a zoomed in face with its pots and scars oiling the sway of the wind and leering down at him. An owl sat in a grand spike of a tree, eyes like headlights. He heard the hoot like a foghorn and the grass at his feet moved in moans and soft howls.

He closed his eyes and opened them again before the bursting brilliance began, before the violet could pull him deeper in. He found himself hugging the girl, rocking back and forth as far off he watched lights click on and off in the town, bathing the streets in their white-yellow pools. He could hear the clicks as well as if they were doors  closing right by him, though the town was miles away.

‘What was he doing out here?’ he asked, and silently smelt her hair. It smelled of incense and earth.

‘We – we heard a noise. He went to go see. He didn’t come back -’ She started sobbing again.

‘Easy,’ he said. He glanced at the farmhouse, a mountain in the moonlight, a fortress of shadow that whispered in creaks. He shivered and once more he heard the foghorn of the owl. He was always on the watch for shadows. They could come from anywhere.

The girl suddenly affixed him with eyes of a blue so radiant that he could have plucked them out and called them jewels. He moved his gaze down, fascinated, to the ruby red of her lips that lit up the jostling shades of her face. He stroked her back and swore his fingers passed through wings.

He gestured to his chopper, to the beast waiting to growl. ‘I was riding fast,’ he said. ‘I heard your cry in the dark. It was lucky I didn’t hit you.’

‘I wish you had.’

He shook his head empathically, and the trees blurred left and right. ‘Don’t say that.’ He shook his head again, admiring how the land became a melting pot yet her figure stayed constant, as perfect and still as an oil painting.

‘He was such a good man,’ she said, tears leaving her face in pearls and icicles. ‘He didn’t deserve this.’

He breathed in deeply, sucked sickly clamour and spice. He took out his hipflask and offered it to her. ‘Here, drink this.’

She trembled in her grief. ‘What is it?’

‘It’s a dream for a better world.’

She took it and sniffed at it. He knew the smell, just like the colour. The smell of violets. She drank.

‘We need to get you a bike,’ he said.

‘Get me one,’ she said.

 

She lay on the road looking up at the night. The man had gone to get a bike. She didn’t care, for the world was changing.

Time was slowing. The patches of darkness around her grew like children. Solidifying and looming, growing tall, growing fat, growing protective and malicious. From either side of the road black trees reached out their arms to pull her in.

Bursts of dark colour around her eyes, dull flashes with every blink. The mind winds down, pads softly, carefully, a cat through the bracken. She closed her eyes and felt herself sway and spin at the top of a spiral staircase. A jumble sale of shapes and ideas thrown and bouncing around her. Melting fragments, elliptical omens and geometrics cavorting like gypsies at a funeral.

She opened her eyes before she fell through the road and down into the depths. The stars glimmered soft and warm, coins of burnt gold scattering the heavens. The treasures called to her with such siren intensity, her body floating so light in its struggle to be free of gravity that she had to turn her head away from the sky before it pulled her up like a UFO abduction and swallowed her whole.

The violet kept on.

 

She was in a deep hollow of white – decorated in snowflakes, each pattern as sharp as knives, as skittery as spiders.

Feel the frogspawn as it swims the long silent lake of the soul. Twitching paddles breaking the divine lines. Flick. Twitch. Alien species find new holes to enter.

We feel fate… our hearts beat softly, so deadly softly, like a quivering fly… tears slide down the thrumming wall of blood. Oh, oh we feel fate alright. Father. Mother’s egg. We feel fate.

The mush of the brain eaten by the higher forces… gobbled spoons… lipsmacking by those that dwell beyond fate: monsters, monsters out to get you, just nothing and nobody.

Crocodile werewolves and nothing and nobody.

 

The road helps those who help themselves –

‘Can you feel it?’

She opened her eyes into a shrouded world. He stood over her, his grin leaked out, pulling its milky whites past the edges of his teeth, becoming lunar and painterly and yet with only a pinprick of a snarl it was ghastly in its Cheshire madness.

‘I can feel the dying calls of the dead,’ she said. ‘I can feel the beasts feeding on their new kill.’

‘The dead have instruments,’ somebody said.

A slow pluck at the world’s strings. A black note. Somewhere in the darkness something hatches.

My father is – who was he – fifty-two years –

‘You’re lying on the road. That’s not good.’

‘The world…’

‘Yes.’

Yes.

‘Get whatever you need,’ he said. ‘I got you a bike. Get your things and ride with me back to where I left mine.’

 

She swayed through the cruel corners of the house. Moving as if in a dream. Once familiar shapes foreign and lurking, waiting for their chance.  She tried to focus on the rest of her essentials. A toothbrush. Toothpaste. She grabbed them from the bathroom and tried not to look at the grotesque manikin that watched her from the mirror.

As she moved back through the ground floor she saw a figure standing quietly by the living room door. She shook her head and it sat down. Crossed its legs, saying I’ll be here if you need me. Not speaking, not even there, but time isn’t for the conscious, it isn’t for the rational. It isn’t for thinkers. It’s for the doers. It’s their king and it’s their world.

She left the front door wide to the night like an open mouth. She had her things and she had no idea how she had got them. Not like this. The house shuffled forward full of monsters and she ran to the bike and got on behind him and they drove off down the road, away from her life.

 

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He nonetheless goes in innocence

Salutations!

My name is Set Sytes. I am a writer. That’s all I can be. I can only survive on the good support of others, I can only exist with your permission.

For me writing isn’t a hobby, it is an exorcism. I have to pull out these threads within me or implode. I write what I see, or rather what I don’t see. I try and give the world more, make the world more than it is. I am inspired by everything the world isn’t.

Sometimes I even enjoy it!

In this blog I will be posting excerpts from work old and new, and short stories, in genres horror and fantasy, dystopian and thriller. I also may post idle thoughts,observations short and lengthy, half-hearted essays and diatribes, interviews with other authors, and favourite quotations. And everything else. I hope you like it all.

I would welcome you to follow my shadow, and take a walk in the mouldy sunshine.

Yours,

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S.S.

He nonetheless goes in innocence…

Author and purveyor of all things dark and weird